Quick, look out your window! Your Kansas City lawn is inhabited by exotic residents from faraway lands. They have come from all corners of the globe and they plan on staying. They will require you to take care of them. No use complaining, after all, you not only invited them, you planted them. If you are like most homeowners in Kansas City, you have a landscape full of exotic plants. Your bluegrass lawn is from Europe, your beautiful Dogwood is from Japan, your lush impatiens can trace their roots back to Africa and even Kansas City’s favorite plant, the yew, can trace its lineage back to Ireland. Although all these plants can survive Kansas City’s heat and cold, they need supplemental watering to thrive. Watering each plant can seem overwhelming, but with a little knowledge and a few tips you can have a beautiful, well-watered landscape.
By dividing your landscape into four categories, you will better able to manage your watering needs.
Your lawn is one of the thirstiest parts of your landscape. Most lawns require 1” of water per week. This can either come from rainfall or supplemental watering. The most important (and most often broken) rule of lawn watering is to water deeply and infrequently. Kansas City’s most proud gardeners, with their spirits blinded by the glory of our lush spring, begin watering their lawns religiously. Convincing themselves that if they can get their lawns green enough now – they will stay green through the summer. Unfortunately, every ounce of excess water they throw on the grass in the early spring is deadly. If the soil in the lawn is not allowed to dry between watering, the roots of the plant grow very shallow, encouraged by the ample water and warmth at the surface. However, Kansas City’s glorious spring is only the opening act to our reliable, but dastardly summers. Shallow roots are a death sentence to your lawn. By watering only when the top 6” of soil have dried out, you will be dispensing some tough love that will result in your lawn being able to survive the summer.
For irrigation systems in Overland Park and other cities, you should be watering every as little as possible but as deep as possible. I usually start by suggesting that homeowners try to water 3/4″ for each zone on two consecutive days. So they will water on Monday and Tuesday and not again for the rest of the week. This long deep and infrequent watering si the kept to healthy grass all summer long. If you grass cannot quite make it through the whole week without looking wilted then you can give another 3/4 inch on Friday. To get 3/4″ of water from an irrigation system usually requires atleast 40 minutes on rotors and 20 minutes on spray heads. However, every sytem is differnt and you should ideally measure how long it takes for yuor sytem to apply that amount of water. Use a straight sided container placed out in the middle of the sprinklers zone and turn it on and let it run until it has fille dup with 3/4″ of water. That is how long it will need to run.
Trees and shrubs are often ignored when it comes to watering because of the perception that such a large plant must be able to pull water from deep down in the soil. However, most of a tree’s roots are in the top 3 feet of the soil. Although trees can and will survive in Kansas City, supplementing their water just few times through the year will reward you with increased growth, enhanced beauty and bolstered resistance to disease and stress. Typically, trees will need a little extra water in the middle of the winter and a couple times during the hottest part of the summer. Watering for trees should be done by observation, not a schedule. When you see signs of stress such as wilted or dropping leaves, apply 3” of water to the area under the braches. This can be done with a well-adjusted impact sprinkler or a soaker hose. The method of application is not as important as making sure ample water is applied where and when the plant needs it.
Perennials have widely varying watering needs based on species and type. It is important to know the specifics for your plants when watering. These can generally be learned by talking to your favorite landscaper or nursery. However, there is still a guideline that will lead you to the healthiest and most beautiful flowers – water only as much as your plants need and not a drop more.
Watering annuals is different than watering other types of plants. Annuals tend to be shallow-rooted and need ample watering to thrive. Annuals should be watered when they first show signs of stress. In the heat of the summer, may mean every day. If you water annuals from overhead, do so early in the day. this This allows the leaves to dry out preventing disease from hurting your plants.
|Published on June 30th, 2008||No Comments||Posted by Jeff Hamons|